Feature Article

New Concepts in LEED v4

Past versions of LEED have helped make FSC and other concepts practically household terms. Where is LEED v4 taking the green building conversation next?

Rain gardens and other low-intensity rainwater management strategies virtually eliminated runoff from the previously problematic site of this project—an addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison, Wisconsin.

Photo: The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc./Zane Williams

Energy modeling, commissioning, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)—since the first building projects became LEED-certified in 2000, concepts like these have gone from being niche interests to being used on tens of thousands of building projects worldwide. While larger trends are also responsible, widespread adoption of the LEED rating systems from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has arguably been the biggest driver.

But why stand still? After a primarily structural upgrade to LEED in 2009, USGBC is trying to convince the building industry that it’s time to push ahead with more innovative concepts in greening our buildings, even as it continues to fine-tune the bedrock LEED requirements. It has been a tough sell: after four public comment drafts, USGBC scrapped plans for launching LEED 2012, pushing a planned member ballot on the system back to 2013 and renaming it LEED v4. (See below for more on how USGBC hopes to roll out LEED v4 over the next year.)

LEED v4 is introducing a number of programs, terms, and concepts that are likely to be unfamiliar even to the most LEED-savvy professionals: BUG ratings, LID infrastructure, BECx, and spatial daylight autonomy are a few of the more esoteric terms. We combed through LEED v4 for concepts that we felt we should know more about, and in this article we elucidate the key LEED v4 concepts most likely to shape the industry for years to come. In analyzing the impact on credit requirements, our focus is on LEED Building Design & Construction (BD&C) rating systems, but most of these concepts crop up across all of LEED.

Published October 2, 2012